A ban on alcohol sales as part of South African Covid-19 restrictions only cut deaths if they are absolute, with partial prohibitions making little difference, a study has shown.
During a hard lockdown between March and May last year, when alcohol was banned and movement severely restricted, unnatural deaths fell 49%, a study by researchers from the South African Medical Research Council and the University of Cape Town showed. An alcohol ban coupled with curfews of between four and seven hours cut deaths by 26%, according to the researchers.
“The study found no reduction in unnatural deaths when there were partial or no restrictions on the sale of alcohol” aside from a six-week period when alcohol sales were permitted but banned at restaurants and bars, Tom Moultrie, director of UCT’s Centre for Actuarial Research and lead author of the study, said in a statement. That restriction cut deaths by 13%, he said.
South Africa’s intermittent alcohol bans and restrictions since the start of the coronavirus pandemic have resulted in lawsuits being filed against the government by liquor companies, who claim the measures have cost thousands of jobs.